One-page website SEO – Making the best of a bad situation

Before I get to how you can best optimise a one-page website for SEO, I’m going to answer what is probably the main question on your mind, “Should I use a one-page website for my business?”. In short, at least regarding SEO, I think you should not use a one-page website.

I don’t think I have ever seen a situation where a one-page website is beneficial for SEO. Even if it is a primarily one-page website, i.e. the intro, about, services, team etc., are all on the homepage, but there is also a separate blog section on the site, I do not think this setup is good for SEO either in most situations.

Of course, I am sure somebody out there can find an example of a single-page site that ranks well for a competitive keyword. However, in my opinion, you can better optimise that site if it had multiple pages targeting a range of keywords, building the topical relevance of the domain.

If you are only targeting a single keyword, you may be okay with a separate blog and single page for everything else. Still, I doubt there are many situations where a business only wants to target a single keyword. And by single keyword, I am referring to a keyword and very close variants of that term, e.g. ‘blue widget’ and ‘blue widgets’.

So, to sum up, if you are building a website for your business and want to drive traffic from Google, Bing or whichever search engine your target audience uses, do not use a single-page website.

Perhaps you already have a single page website, and you cannot change the site’s structure, or maybe you have decided to ignore my advice above and build a one-page website regardless. You might then be wondering, “How do I SEO a one-page website?” Well, read on.

SEO tips for a one-page website

Create clearly defined content sections

This is one of the most important tips for single page sites – create clearly defined sections for the pages you would have had if you were setting up a multi-page website. For example, the following sections would be typical for many one page sites:

  • Introduction – functions how a typical home page would, introducing a visitor to your organisation or offering
  • About us
  • Our team – profiles of team members
  • Services
  • Our work – Examples of work or case studies
  • Testimonials
  • Contact us

Of course, the sections do not need to be in the order above.

You will want to ensure that you separate each section in the HTML. Use <div> or <section> tags to demarcate the different sections of the page.

Ensure that each section uses appropriate heading tags so that the document outline is clear and easy for machines to understand. I have seen other people recommending using multiple H1s for single page sites. I am not too fond of this. As you have a single page, the content still needs to be reasonably focused. I would recommend using a single H1 in your top banner for your main keyword, then use H2s for each section’s headings.

Use anchor links

Just because you have a one-page site does not mean you cannot have internal navigation. Use anchor links to allow visitors to click to other sections of your page instantly, without having to scroll and search the page.

For example, your About us section could have an id attribute of ‘about-us’, like this <div id="about-us">. You can then add links to this section from anywhere else on this page using an anchor tag as follows <a href="#about-us">About us</a>.

Google may also show these anchor links as quick links in the SERPs so that users can get to specific content faster.

You can achieve a similar effect using the pushState() method and some JavaScript. Using pushState() allows you to change things such as the URL and the title tag, effectively mimicking multiple pages using a single page. With some JavaScript, you can also make the browser scroll to the relevant parts of a page based on the URL slug. However, I do not think this setup is a good alternative to a multi-page site. Even though search engines will see those URLs as different pages, they all have the same content and will essentially be duplicates.

Carry out on-page SEO as you would for any other site

With so much focus on the one-page site-specific optimisation, you should not forget to implement on-page optimisation the same way you would for any other site. Important on-page factors to consider when optimising your one-page website:

  • Title tag – ensure that your title tag contains your target keyword within the first 60 characters.
  • Meta description – write a compelling meta description to increase click-through rates from search results. You should also include your main keyword in the meta description.
  • H1 – Include your primary keyword in your H1 tag.
  • H2, H3, H4 etc. – include your main keyword, variants of your primary keyword and secondary keywords in heading tags. You should also pay attention to nesting your content correctly to ensure a clear document outline. For example, you may have an H2 subheading of “10 ways to use your blue widget”, then you may list the ten ways to use your blue widget, each with an H3 subheading and then a description in a paragraph tag.
  • Main content – Include your primary keyword, its variants, and secondary keywords in your main content. You should also include semantic keywords to increase the topical relevance of your content. Generally, longer content tends to rank better in search engines, so a couple of hundred words might not be enough. However, I do not recommend writing fluff to increase your word count. Write for your audience first, then search engines.
  • External links – It can be beneficial to link out to some relevant, high authority websites. Just make sure they are not sites you are directly competing with, otherwise you will be helping their SEO efforts.
  • Internal links – even if you have a one-page site, you can still link internally. See the section above on anchor links.
  • Images – make sure that you optimise your images; this includes keyword-rich file names, compressed images that barely impact page load times, and keyword-rich, descriptive alt attributes.
  • Videos – video content can be great for UX as well as SEO. I always like to recommend including video transcripts as the text gives search engines something easy to crawl.
  • Structured data – I am a big fan of structured data. It can really help search engines to understand your content. There are many types of structured data you can use for your site. Some of my favourites are the videoObject, and the FAQPage Question and Answer. You can find out more about structured data on Google Search Central.
  • Page speed – Google has been placing ever greater emphasis on user experience. How fast your pages load can significantly impact whether your visitors have a positive or negative experience on your site. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to see which page speed optimisations Google recommends to speed up your site.
  • Core Web Vitals – another UX factor, Core Web Vitals have become a ranking factor in 2021. The three metrics that compose Core Web Vitals are LCP (Largest Contentful Paint), FID (First Input Delay), and CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift). Google reports in Search Console how well your pages are performing from a Core Web Vitals perspective. You can also get some information about Core Web Vitals from PageSpeed Insights.

There are other on-page factors and technical SEO issues that might be affecting your rankings, but if you optimise everything above, you should be in an excellent position to improve your rankings.

Inbound links

You have probably heard this a million times, but relevant, high-authority links can improve your rankings. Yes, content can rank without many links, but quality links will very likely improve your rankings. Aim for sites that themselves have lots of quality links and content relevant to your website.

Wrapping up

Those are my top tips for getting your one-page website to rank in search engines. You have some single page website specific recommendations, but make sure that you do not forget the SEO fundamentals. Ultimately, I would recommend avoiding one-page websites if you can, at least when it comes to SEO.

If you would like some advice about your SEO, contact our team by emailing hello@strategyst.co.uk.

Daniel Lee

I am a digital marketing strategist with more than eleven years' experience. I have worked in digital marketing agencies, as well as client-side. My clients include small businesses all the way up to organisations with revenue in the billions. I provide marketing consultancy both in the UK and the US. I hold a Master of Science degree in International Marketing, and I am a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

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